Dance Moms Season 5 episode 5 recap: Putting the “abby” in “crabby”

dance-moms-season-5-episode-5-abby-junk-food Lori Acken

Well, Dance Moms nation, after more than a year of yammering about it to varying degrees, we are finally in L.A. You know, where people go to become stars.

After revisiting why Holly and Jill might be leery of making this move, we head for a strip mall containing a studio that, it turns out, is not Abby Lee’s. ALDC-LA is, it seems, still a work in progress.

Turns out the rent-a-studio is also home to The Rage Dance Company, whose bubbly, bottle-blond coach, Tiffany, sounds a lot like Yvette “You gotta risk it for the biscuit!” Walts. Lots and lots of “get it, girls!” “let’s go, ragers!” “what? what? unh! unh!” encouragements.


Abby decrees it awful. Also, dreadful, horrible and unacceptable.

Everyone bolts for the parking lot and Abby retreats to her car to make a call in private. Jill wants to know what is with her being intimidated by other dancers on Day Freakin’ One. Kendall says they should just go into a practice room and get at it.

Aaaaaand here come Jojo and Jessalyn. Jess says Abby invited them to L.A., so …here they are. Even though dancing is not included in what Abby invited them to L.A. to do. They’re here.

The whole gang heads in to make nice with Tiffany, another coach named Veda, and the ragers and then find a place to start warming up. The ragers rage on. Jill says it’s not the studio or the space that have Abby on the run, it’s her first look at what is going to be the norm for competition out here in La-La-land. Two years to plan for this and this is the best you’ve got to offer on Day 1?


I am nothing more than a passenger in my own journey. With a tasty pack of Sour Patch Kids.

Next we head to the Murietta Dance Studio, home of dance coach Erin Babbs and her team. Oh, what’s this now? A new team of dance moms ready for their closeup? Turns out we’ve met Erin before. She choreographed the Candy Apples’ ill-fated group routine, “The Last Dance,” and says Abby has no idea what she’s made of. Or what the L.A. dance scene is all about, even.

Meanwhile, back at the strip mall, we’re all just sittin’ around waiting on something to happen when Abby calls Kira’s phone. She’s not comfortable with that studio space, so even though we have 3 days to prep for our first big West Coast competition, we’re going to relocate … somewhere. But in the meantime, big news! Audition tomorrow that everyone can be part of!

The mothers aren’t really buying into this. No ideas for the competition, so let’s throw out a distraction. It’s become Abby’s M.O. lately. Storm out or create a smoke screen. We’re not in Pittsburgh anymore, Toto. Oh that Gia were here to save the day!


Gia’s here to save the day. She deflects the mothers’ questions. Never you mind, ladies. Abby’s just runnin’ around, doin’ stuff. Including meeting with John Barba, who, according to Melissa “casted” Transformers and Her with Joaquin Phoenix. Huge in this town. Huge.

Now, about the dancing. Maddie gets the only solo. Everyone will be in the group except Jojo. And that’s final. Gia is not about to go against her boss.

When she says that the group dance will be lyrical, the mothers flip out, pointing out the slam-bam, in-your-face choreography going on across the hall. Gia is firm. Lyrical is what they do best and they’re not about to change just because they’re in L.A. Gia, you save me, girl. Do not go back to Pittsburgh. Do not leave this show.

The mothers think Gia is nervous because she knows they’re right about Abby, but she needs to back The Big Boss up if she wants to keep her gig. So let’s call Abby, just for funsies. Surprisingly she picks up on the first ring and says there’s stuff going down at home, so she might be headed back to PA. Oh sure! When we’re all in Pittsburgh, Abby’s in L.A. When we’re all in L.A., Abby’s headed back to Pittsburgh. We’re starting to think you’re avoiding us, Abby. We are.

Opinions abound. Jill says Abby’s flat out going cray-cray. Holly says she’s running scared. Melissa says she wouldn’t either leave them there in L.A. Just blowing off a little steam is all.

Maddie’s solo is called All God’s Creatures, about a homeless child, and it’s like All Maddie’s Solos.

Back at the Murietta Dance Project studio, meet the new cast of Dance Moms.


I kid. I think. I’m starting to suspect they’re the West Coast version of the Candy Apples, here to give us someone else to be mad at.

Erin tells her little soldiers not to be afraid of this battle, especially Talia (Seitel) who we met in the Guess Who’s Coming to the Dance episode in Season 4 and who will be going head-to-head with Maddie in the solo competition. Erin feels Talia’s a better performer than Maddie; therefore her solo will be called Something Better. Erin feels sorry for anyone who gets in Talia’s way.

At the next day’s mystery audition, we compliment each others’ outfits, then watch Abby get into a foul-mouthed, 400-decibel altercation with someone over a parking spot. Quick! Here she comes! Act like nothing happened!

“Hi. Miss Abby!” Hi!


Um, hi?

Holly asks for some words of wisdom for the girls before they head in to, you know, catch their big break. She has some. Er, doesn’t she? Hallooooo?

No. No she does not.

Holly says that’s disgraceful. Abby says she needs to keep her “damn mouth shut!” Not to Holly, though. To Nia. Holly calls her out on it, then everyone flees for the safety of inside the building. There, we meet John Barba, who looks like a very nice man. We also learn — well, those of us who are new to this sort of thing (me) — that this meeting is called a “general.” It’s how new actors pitch themselves to agencies to get on their rosters.

Barba’s cohort Lisa Fields, who also seems like a very nice person, tells the girls that the pair cast everything from ads to Tay-Tay’s “Shake It Off” video. (John Linen, I believe this here would be your cue for this week’s Comments Section Lyrical Rewrite). That last one catches everyone’s attention — Nia’s most of all, because she wants to be a pop star.

The moms get shuttled off to a viewing room, where they discuss the Abby situation.

Jojo volunteers to tackle the script, which is apparently about the anatomy of a cell, first. Then Mack. Kendall. Kalani kills it — but she appears to get to talk about boys instead of science.


Maddie does a good job, too. Lisa says she’s going to cry. Nia goes last. Abby glares at her when she walks in the room. Stay classy, toots.

Nia delivers her lines with panache, but Abby wastes no time in disparaging her efforts in front of her and blaming Holly for it. John Barba says sometimes brave choices are what land a job. Lisa Fields gives Nia a wink.

Nice work, manager. Way to show your expertise.

Holly says she wants Nia to become a star, but not at any cost. Outside, she takes Abby to task for her behavior in Nia’s audition. Abby says she was just trying to stop Nia from looking like a fool (by shooting down her audition on the back end instead of working with her on it on the front end). Holly says it’s time for everyone to stop acting like Abby’s abusiveness is normal.


Deeply preferring normal, Melissa thanks Abby for the opportunity. Jojo smells another one. She pipes up sweetly, asking Abby if she will be at the competition tomorrow. Abby does not know. “We’re still dancing, right?” Jojo wonders. There’s no “jojo” in “we,” kid. But points for trying.

Abby, out.

The other mothers want to talk about whether or not Abby will make an appearance; Holly wants to talk about why no one backs her up when she calls out bad behavior. “You fail your daughters because you are afraid of Abby!” she seethes, stalking away.

Yes, but you know … what if one of them lands the science thingie we just read for?

Next day, arriving at the competition, instead of the usual cheering throngs, the mothers are met with a barrage of snide remarks about Abby’s whereabouts. And a couple visual aids about L.A.’s opinion of her talents.


The Murietta Dance Project comes marching in full combat, parade-style — banner and all. Melissa says she knows they’re the hardest-working kids here in L.A. and she is nervous. For. Sure. Holly says she’s not surprised that Abby’s MIA, but if she does show up, she hopes she has her act together.

Er, not so much.





Oh oh. Mama gone nutty and we’re far, far from home. If Abby ever did a walk of shame this is probably what it would look like. Kira thinks so, too.

Where ya been, little brutalized soldier?

With all the confidence of an 8th-grader getting busted shimmying through their bedroom window after midnight, Abby looks around, runs her fingers through her hair, stammers a bit and then starts listing stuff.


Getting all the materials for Maddie’s costume.


Um, getting things set up.


Meetings with song people about songs. And also music.

Then she snaps back to reality and rages about how can the moms be with her for this long and not know that?

Because you have not ever, even back in your hairband days, even when Maryen Lorrain was in her final days, showed up anywhere looking like you slept in an alley, dude. Is how. I’ve been with you a long time, too, Abby Lee.

Abby says it’s the new “networking them around Hollywood” part that’s kicking her keister. And if they can do it better, they can do it and she will just … walk away all like, taaa daaaaa!


You know what this moment needs? This moment needs a little dash of Jojo! And it’s a doozer.


You know, just in case. Something happens. Requiring the swing to swing on in and save the day. Them’s brutal hallways out there. Just look at Abby.

Just leave your hair like that, Jojo. Just leave it like that. Before Abby yanks it right out of your oblivious little noggin.

Insult, meet injury, meet salt in the wound. Here come Erin and a couple MDP moms. Ladies and gentlemen, we indeed have us some LA-LA-Landy Apples. Hi, Abby. Hi!


Best fate you could hope for, sister.
Abby tells the air around her that she’d prefer a fruit basket.

Melissa gets verklempt at Abby’s condition, then rushes off to watch her girl dance.

Talia goes first with “Letting Go.” The dance is clearly designed to beat Maddie at her own game — in fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Maddie do this self-same dance, or damned close, a time or two. Boo, Erin Babbs. Zero points for individuality/creativity/do-your-own-homework-ivity. I saw The Last Dance in its infancy. You know better. You do better. Ack.

Melissa is speechless from Talia’s though. This is her face when her daughter walks onstage (if we’re to believe the editors. Which we don’t).


Once again, the song is annoying as hell, but Maddie emotes the daylights out of the dance. I’m not sure it’s as technically precise as Talia’s but I guess we’ll see what the judges prefer.

After solos, we half-heartedly celebrate Maddie’s efforts and Abby running a comb through her hair and then Erin and her minions show up with a lovely Edible Arrangement. Well, Abby said.


Erin says they’re always excited to compete against the best … so …anyhow … <crickets>.

Melon balls down! Marshmallows on the loose.

Could this day get worse? Why sure! Jess is busily prepping Jojo for the group dance right along side the other mothers. And when the kid comes to grab a costume off the pile, Abby snatches it away. No, Jojo! No! No touching! Bad girl! Greedy little bad girl!

Even though she has been told 1 million and eleven times that her kid is not in the group dance, Jessalyn says Abby’s selfishness is going to catch up with her.

Abby says this is what she can take no more of — children misbehaving because of their mothers, and her being the fall guy for being mean when they do. She’s outtie. For more eating in the car. Girl’s so busy she has to eat in the car and no one appreciates it. It’s enough to make a girl …


Eyes on me, Gia tells the girls. Minds on the dance. Let the grown-ups do what they will.

MDP goes first with Unstoppable. Their ability to do dynamic, complex choreography completely in sync is kind of dazzling. Jill isn’t so sure that the ALDC’s fluffy-bunny lyrical number has enough L.A. pizazz to best it.

Let’s find out.

Everything goes swimmingly until Maddie falls out of a turn at the tail end. Yes, Maddie. Oh well. A few boos boos. Jill hopes the judges won’t notice.

The announcer says that first and second place in the junior solo division both earned perfect scores, forcing a tie-breaker. In second place is Fragile Forest …which is neither Maddie’s nor Talia’s dance. Maddie looks worried, but she takes the win. Turns out Talia wasn’t even Top 5. So put that in your fruit basket and coat it with rich dark chocolate, Erin.

Turns out first and second were both perfect in the group dance, too, necessitating another tie-breaker. Are we sure L.A. is the toughest dance-competition scene out there? What’s with all this perfect?

ALDC gets second. MDP gets first. Holly says that’s all on Abby. What shall we do about it? Holly’s not waiting around to find out. Saying that teaching morals is the most important thing, she heads out into the hallway to make a call. A mystery woman answers. And we have our first potential defector in the good doctor and her kid.


Next week on Dance Moms, Holly and Abby have a heart-to-heart and ALDC LA might be down an AL.

So what say you, Dance Moms nation? Is the pressure of life in L.A. too much for Abby or is this all part of a plan to get out of a fine legal-and-otherwise mess? Do you believe the actions of anyone out of their teens is an honest one anymore?  As always, our battle cry of less fighting, more dancing? What do you make of the MDP? Sound off in the comments section below.

New episodes of Dance Moms premiere Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.


    • At least Sia writes original songs. The Record of the Year by Sam Smith *Stay With Me* was the same song as Tom Petty’s *I Won’t Back Down*…I mean the exact same song.

      Maybe everybody knows that already.

  1. So I am confused about the kids who dance at other studios (as cited above, the one Kalani really trains with). Do they just come and dance at Abby’s studio and with the team for the show, then they go home?

    Also, I am with those who hope that Nia gets some good opportunities in LA, and what’s her name, Jill’s daughter, while we’re at it. I’d love it if some of the non-favorite children get a chance to succeed without Abby’s misery.

    • Yes that’s my understanding, they only film at certain times of the year and the rest of the time Kalani, and whoever else is performing with the team, returns to their regular studio.

  2. I just wanna know. ..and I don’t think I’m alone here. ..did Abby really trash that Edible Arrangements bouquet cuz that’s just wrong…it was the kind with chocolate dipped fruit AND marshmallows. ..that’s the expensive one…yeah i get erin was tryin to be funny but i mean c’mon…what does Abby have against the finest fruit

  3. Just a few observations:
    Abby sense of entitlement: pulled into a 10 minute parking spot and stayed for how long? Several phones calls, trips inside, sour patch candies…

    A throwaway line from Abby as she abandons her team–“I have to do what’s best for me?” When has she ever NOT done what is best for her? Never.

    Did anyone catch Melissa’s grim reaper look when Fragile Forest was announced as second place? The blogs later disclosed that Kalani performed Fragile Forest and achieved a perfect score. Is that really the face Melissa wants to show when any sane person would be cheering the success of a teammate and supposed friend of her daughter?

    Also on Fragile Forest vs Maddie’s winning number, both dances got perfect scores, but in different divisions. In most studios, doesn’t the kudos usually go to the kid in the more senior division, since the technical standards are higher? What a slap in the face for Kalani to not be acknowledged AT ALL by the show, her teacher, or by her teammates.

    Perhaps Abbey was trying to get into the spirit of Maddie’s homeless number–she looked as though she had spent the night on the street, nursing a bottle of gin and sobbing into the remnants of yesterday’s makeup.

    Last, what a rude ungrateful b***ch she was to the studio hosting her shenanigans (regardless of whether Lifetime was paying rent) and to her peer teachers who (while competitive) seemed to have been courteous to her and welcoming to the girls. After demanding a gift, she tosses it across the floor? And she calls out everyone else on their lack of respect. I don’t care if the show is fake; that woman’s animosity toward the dance world, the mothers, and (most of) the girls is feral.

    • As far as kudos going to the most senior student, that’s far from the way most competitions work. I know several junior (12 and under) dancers who can out-dance a teenager who has been training for more years, age and experience have nothing to do with talent, or technique, or flat out stage presence.

  4. How did the group get a “perfect” score when a dancer goofed a turn? I’m not saying anything against Maddie, no one’s perfect and the kid dances 24/7, but even so it was a blunder. There were 3 judges, so there’s no way they all missed that. There’s no way that dance should have gotten a perfect score. This “invitational” had to be rigged.

    • Remember they do the group routine twice, once for the judges and once for taping, my guess would be the other routine was “perfect” while the one that we saw had the mistake.

  5. I found the 2/3 episode a setup for a story line. Yes, we have The Rage and MDS being setup as rivals, you knew that had to happen, but more interesting was Abby scenes. You notice another weigh lost in her face and overall body. You noticed mood swings. In just about every scene Abby was eating snake food. So how is she losing weight when eating snake food? Based on “spooler” reports the team continues the season without a major blowup. So this leads me to think that the story line for the next several weeks will be “don’t binge diet”. Let’s just keep that in the back of your mind as we see this unfold.

    Dancers I would like to see on the show are: Brynn Ramffalo (Club Dance) (I think she dances against ALDC and is a quest with them in upcoming episodes, Jaycee Wilkins (Club Dance) Bostyn Brown (Club Dance), and Sophia Lucia (I think she is in San Diego) who is in my top 5 dancers I have seen.

    On another note, Abby has the next great dancer in Sarah. She has an emotional face (like Maddie) and the heart (like Chloe) to tell a story. She is working hard and has improved her skill set and consistency. Not seen on air in a previous episode there was an interchange between Sarah and Abby right after JoJo asked Abby why see did watch her dance. It was one of those moments that caught Abby off guard and she almost came to tears as Sarah told her how much she loved dancing and how she loved telling stories using her dance. The clip can be found on YouTube.


  6. I can easily believe that Abby has been fired. The combination of low ratings and lawsuits over her behavior may have proved too much. I don’t find it a stretch to think there’s a possibility that Abby will strike a child. Probably JoJo. The network didn’t sign on for anything vaguely like this. They have been receiving complaints from viewers, child protection specialists and other groups. I think it would have been cancelled even with high ratings to protect the network brand.

    • If that were the case, the show would have been cancelled after the second season, controversy sells and Lifetime knows with Abby there will be no shortage of it.

    • My best guess is that Lifetime informed miller that the show will not renew, they will air what they already filmed, and that’s it.

      This would leave her without Lifetime’s legal staff to help her with Paige’s lawsuit. She has to, deep down inside, know that without Lifetime she goes back to being a nobody, and a nobody who has cut every connection she may have had before this show. She can’t ride maddie’s coat tails forever. Melissa will stab her in the back in a blink if she sees a better chance for her baby starlet.

  7. I haven’t watched the episode yet, but here’s a theory based on Abby’s apparent psychotic breakdown this week–the constant scowl, bad temper, no hair-make-up, squabbles in parking lots, etc. Just maybe …. is there a chance she has been informed that the show is to be cancelled? The timing is right (beginning of a low-ratings season). Perhaps her private phone calls are to Lifetime. From the photos and recap, she truly is acting as though her world is falling apart–Lifetime pulling the plug on her would do that.

    • This episode was filmed during first week of November, but the ratings at end of 4th season were down too. Seems likely Abby’s hopes of green lighting any more spin-offs that she might have been pitching were squashed.

    • I would guess the phone calls and sudden disappearance had to do with the lawsuit against Paige, I don’t think anything else would rattle Abby as much as her precious image being damaged. She does look like someone on the brink of a nervous breakdown though, if it were anyone else I’d feel sorry for them, but for Abby….nope, not a bit.


    My dance teacher is gone
    She left me here
    With bows on my head
    She stayed out all night long
    Can we film this all over again?

    My dance teacher is gone
    And look in mirror, she made us fear
    Her methods can’t be wrong
    My teacher, teacher, my dance teacher is gone

    My dance teacher is gone


    • Jojo was a girl who thought she was a dancer
      But she knew it wouldn’t last
      Jojo left her home in Pitttsburh, Pensylvania
      For a California cast

      Get back, get back
      Get back to where you once belonged
      Get back, get back
      Get back to where you once belonged
      Get back Jojo
      Go home


      Just a song under the *obvious* category. I honestly hope the kids get a break here.

        • I loved both of your Lyrical rewrites this week, John Linen! And as long as you put the “h” at the end of Pittsburgh, it’s okay by me. Thanks for the spelling correction, though. And the Roseanne Rosanadanna “Nevermind!” Gilda also hated all the “violins” on TV. I wonder how she wood feel about Dance Moms?
          And Lori… I confess to giggling all the way through your recaps, but lordy, you had me literally rolling on the floor laughing with your “Melon balls down! Marshmallows on the loose.” line. Bwahahahaha! Now aren’t you glad you’re still doing recaps while Abby is crashing and burning? 🙂

    • This week’s episode got another 0.5 rating.

      So, I was googling Lisa Fields trying to figure out where the eff her office is, because I didn’t recognize the neighborhood. I couldn’t figure that out on google, but I did find her list of casting credits. I shit you not:

      The Veil


      The Purdge


      A Nightmare on Elm Street (Remake)

      The Bad Penny

      Friday the 13th (Remake)

      Cabin Fever 2

      The Hitcher

      The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

      The Amityville Horror


      Blind Horizon

      The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

      The Follow


  9. Great recap Miss Acken! I love reading your recaps, I’ve read every single Dance Moms one you’ve written.

    There are some extra things to know about the competition. The Fragile Forest #, well it was Kalani’s solo. You actually see her in a costume, and a quick few seconds of her dance were shown in a season preview back in December. She got 1st place in Teen, and a perfect score… but she somehow still got 2nd Overall? Maddie had a perfect score… yet there was a seperation… unbelievable.

    The Rage studio in the beginning of the episode also was at the competition, and this studio actually is Mckenzie and Gavin Morales’s studio when they’re not with the CADC. Gavin had a solo in the Junior divison, and took home 3rd overall with a score of 299. Mckenzie had a solo in Junior as well, 2nd in that division and 4th overall. Rage’s group # got 3rd Overall, the ALDC beat their number.

    Maddie’s solo was lovely. The group was lovely, albeit Maddie’s botched turn. The fact that Erin even spoke about it wanted to make me drive up a wall. It ticked me off so much. Maddie is 12 years old, and a grown up is pointing out her faults, when she isn’t even her teacher. It also wasn’t an audition, and Erin wasn’t a judge… unnecessary comment.

    Auditions were cool. I personally did not like Maddie, Kendall, or Jojo’s. Nia and Kalani were my two favorites, Mackenzie in the middle. Abby’s behavior this episode was atrocious.

    But… next episode? Ooh boy… This competition has something fierce. The ALDC attends a Sheer Talent competition, and the main studio competing besides the ALDC is Club Dance from Arizona, which is Kalani’s actual studio she trains at. There was so much talent at the comp, it caused old faces to reappear.

    Fun fact about the upcoming episode. Sarah Reasons, one of the girls from the Select Ensemble, gets 1st in Teen w/ her #.

    Yet again, wonderful recap! Can’t wait to see what you have in store for next week!

    • the tie between Maddie and Kalani is broken by a judges decision according to the rules of the competition and Maddie won based on that

    • Nia knocked that audition out of the park, and from the looks of that wink from the casting person, she loved it as well. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see Nia get something out of this LA thing, if anyone would send Abby into an absolute tailspin because of her success, it would be that kid.

      • Great recap! I just want to say that I too fell Nia knocked that audition out of the park. Which was why miller acted her normal fool self. I wish Holly could just get it that miller is mad because Nia did so well. Holly is getting on my last nerve because she never backed Christi all that time, and Christi stood up for all the kids. She seriously can’t believe that jill or Melissa are ever going to go against miller. I too think it may be Paige’s lawsuit. The court dismissed Kelly’s because it was a tv show,,, but throwing a chair at a child is serious and miller has nowhere to hide.

        • Holly’s pissed me off since the first episode of this season for those reasons exactly, and the tries to defend herself on twitter by saying she was “reacting to the situation and it was misconstrued”…..puuuuulease, she’s been taking lessons on skirting an issue from Miss Abby herself, and it ain’t doing her any favors.

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About Lori Acken 1195 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.